Monday, January 11, 2010

Someday my space will come. . .

I would love to be the Felix to Linsey’s supposed Oscar, but alas I am not. If anything, I am more disorganized than she. I’ve been so busy carving out time to write that I haven’t given much thought to a place. Okay, so I tried writing in my closet, and that worked up until Christmas when my closet became the gift repository. Now, I can’t find my desk.

I have a front room, but it, too, is full of junk. One of my goals for 2010 is to clean out this room and keep it clean. After all, it’s just to the left of the front door, and it’s an eyesore for those who dare enter my house. Let’s face it, after eight years of teaching while going to class and bearing babies, my house is a wreck. I know others manage to do all of the above and then some while keeping a clean house, but I know my limitations. They say the first step is to admit you have a problem.

So, you can see the space that will one day be my writing space, and I will have my back to the strip of wall between the two windows. For me, the windows are distracting while I can easily stare through walls. Also, I have been known to get so into what I’m writing that, if my husband puts a hand on my shoulder, he sends me into orbit. Suffice to say, I like to keep my back to the wall.

Now, here is one of the two places where I do a great deal of my writing. This is one of the most cluttered corners in the house because there isn’t really a desk to keep all of my goodies. I also live in fear of forgetting to remove my laptop and having Lorelai fling a liquid substance on it because she eats in the spot just beside me.

I have also logged quite a few pages (over 500 in 2009) at Gabriel’s, a local bakery/restaurant. Gabriel’s doesn’t have Internet access, but they do have incredible muffins and breakfast sandwiches, and they have the added advantage of being just around the corner from Lorelai’s preschool thus minimizing time lost in travel. Sometimes I also write upstairs in the church where she goes to school; it can’t hurt to have a little divine intervention from time to time.

And that’s a sample of the places where I write. In 2009, I learned to squeeze out words wherever I could, so you can imagine me writing just about anywhere. Since we’ve been talking about writing spaces all month, I thought I might ask a different question or two. What’s the strangest place you’ve written 500 words or more? Also, anybody have any organizational strategies for the clutter impaired?


Debbie Kaufman said...

I can't think of a strange place, only the mundane. I've written in a hippie-style coffeehouse, a library, a doctor's office, a hotel, a car, and in carpool lines. I'll have to work on strange and exotic, lol.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Oh, and I still have Kitty Grubbs of Let's Get It Together. I promise that she could put you in organization heaven in a short period of time.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

I'm going to start saving my pennies. As you can see, it's going to be quite the project. I will say that the front room has undergone a wonderful transformation since that photo was taken. It's not there yet, but hubby blinked twice when last he saw it and said, "I'm not sure how I feel about actually being able to walk in here."

I'd have to think carefully about strange and exotic myself. Does a cruise ship work?

Susan May said...

File folders and holders I believe in. I can at least get thing alike together.

Marilyn Baron said...

I think your office looks nice (the last picture by the window).
Unfortunately I don't have any organizational strategies, but I need them.


Maxine Davis said...


We think alike! Hope Lorelai's aim is not too good.

Gabriel's. Is that the place in Marietta? My late nephew-by-marriage, David, is her nephew. My niece and sister love, love Gabriel's.

Sandy Elzie said...


Like I said in my response to Linsey, I have tons of files, labeled, one for each story, one for ideas for future stories, (that's where all the notes on napkins go) etc. In your case you might want something that has a case Lorelai's aim is good or in case it improves. Then my office has small, shelf-sized tubs with lids to hold all my extra office stuff. One for pen/pencils/markers, one for boxes of staples/paper clips, etc and so on. For you I'd suggest opaque or a dark, dull color and on a top shelf so the little one isn't tempted to go after the stuff inside them. Loved your honesty.


Love your future space between the windows.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Linsey, I can sooo relate to being a packrat. My excuse is that I'm a child of Depression-Era children. LOL!

One recent thing that's helped me in my kitchen, at least, is a pegboard. You know, those things guys put up in garages to store wrenches, shovels, etc.?

Anyway,I'm trying to figure out some way that I could incorporate a pegboard into my office. Maybe hang plastic file pockets on it so I can jam papers into them instead of just stacking them on the floor.

Sally, I like your potential space. You'll get it together and it'll be FAB...just like you! :)

As for weird or exotic places I've written...probably on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean.

Cyrano said...

I guess the strangest place I've written was at my son's swim practice in a humid indoor pool complex...not really strange, but the sound of water in constant motion was great for writing.
Now, like I told Linsey, I think your writing space is exactly what a writer's office should look like. It's a room or nook...or closet, that holds the implements and accumulated knowledge of your craft. The clutter reveals that you are both working writers, sitting in a working offices, not in pristine museums.
I salute the packrats of the romance writing world!! You are the ones getting it done.

Loved the pics.
Have a brilliant morning,

Michelle said...

Most exotic place I've written? At a winery in Napa Valley. I was a fellow one year at the Napa Valley Writers and we had writing time in wineries and grape orchards. Actually, the poetry sequence I'm currently posting every Monday on my blog was written there. My best organizational advice? Trashcan. Learn that you do not have to keep every scrap of paper that comes your way. If my studio gets really messy I set a timer for 15 minutes and challenge myself to throw away 30 things in 15 minutes.

Cyrano said...

How wonderful it must have been to write in the winery. And writing times in orchards too...AMAZING!!
And your advice on clean up is great. What a good idea!


Linsey Lanier said...

Sally, I see a lot of potential in that space. You already have a lot of the plastic organizers Sandy is fond of.

I can't imagine using a closet for a workspace. I admire that kind of tenacity.

I jump out of my skin when my husband calls me when I'm writing, too.

Your current workspace looks cozy, too. If you logged 500 pages in 2009, then you must be doing something right. :)

Strangest place? I can't remember, since I try to get in a few words most everywhere I go when I'm writing a draft. I carry a canvas bag around with me with notes and books and the CDs I'm listening to. So I'd probably have to say my car. I use a tape recorder while ideas are flowing. You have to be careful with that, though. An accident would definitely hinder the flow...

Debbie, I'm going to have to check out that book.

Cinthia, I know what you mean! Throwing out anything induces guilt, LOL.

Michelle, I love your challenge. I'll have to try that sometime.


Dianna Love said...

Sally -
I write the same way I painted - make a mess while I'm in the midst of being productive then clean up later when I'm ready for a mental break or the project is done. I did find that those plastic units with a stack of drawers that are a little larger than a manuscript are very handy. I put a sticky on each one noting if it is a current book or an upcoming project or misc "ideas" or whatever so that I had somewhere to throw the piles of notes I make all the time. It helps me to be able to easily find the notes later, but I would not put them away if I had to do something formal.

As for the strangest place I've written - I wrote the bulk of my first book while sitting in the stadium seats of Fenway Park in Boston while directing crews on building a large sign project. The only other thing I carried besides my two-way radio and climbing gear was a shoulder bag with my AlphaSmart. The rest of the book was written in airports b/c I flew to Boston every week for months. Later on, I edited a manuscript while sitting on my motorcycle that was parked on a ferry making a 3 hour crossing on a trip.

But I'm envious of writing in a winery...

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Susan--thanks. You might want to take out stock in filing materials if I get started.

Marilyn--thanks! I'm hoping it will have a little more personality--maybe another color.

Brenda--Yes, the Gabriel's that's on Whitlock Ave. I adore that place; great meatloaf for lunch, too.

Sandy--You sound like an organizational guru. I think I'll stick with clear organizers, though, because Lorelai will get into just about anything whether she can see it or not.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Cinthia--You are so sweet! Thank you! I like the idea of peg board, and here's to writing in the Caribbean.

Tamara--I like the swimming pool idea. I once came up with the idea for a poem while watching my son take swim lessons. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Michelle--I think you win with the winery. I would love to try that. As for the circular file, I'm getting better. My problem is that I hesitate to throw anything away that doesn't belong to me.

Linsey--The closet was awesome because there was no way anyone was going to sneak up on me in there. Also, it was far removed from the television and any other distractions. Alas, my closet is not quite big enough for its intended purpose and a desk.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Dianna--Okay I was hasty with the windery. I would love to write at Fenway on a warm spring day, too. I have written in the airport; I think I logged thirty pages while waiting for our delayed flight out of New Orleans. I can't say, however, that I've ever written from the back of a motorcyle or while on a ferry much less a combination of the two. It just goes to show that we should never waste time that could be used writing.

I'm definitely a proponent of mess while I'm busy and clean when I need a little break. Unfortunately, I take that approach with my house too. That said, I'd rather play Barbie than clean because the house is going to be there long after the Barbies are gone.

Thanks for the comment!

Darcy Crowder said...

Hi Sally,

I think your space looks like it has wonderful potential. I guess I haven't written anywhere exotic....the most different was when I got stuck one day and decided to dictate into my tape recorder while I took a walk. I'd tried it while driving, but not walking...anyway, it worked - got 3 pages worth of dialogue. Wonder what the neighbors though of me talking to myself as I clipped on down the road. :)

Dianna Love said...

hahaha...very true on the Barbies, Sally.

Now - where is that meatloaf restaurant. You guys are holding out on me.

Ana Aragón said...

Okay, I've got an exotic location...I didn't write much, maybe 1000 words--but in a loft apartment in Cairo! It was wonderful!

Oh, and I did write a little at the hotel in Rome...same trip (of a lifetime!)

No organizational strategies for've already seen my mess!


Sally Kilpatrick said...

Darcy--thanks for the vote of interior design confidence. As for talking to yourself, one of my fiction professors claims that writers do hear voices in their head and are only about a hair away from being crazy.

Dianna--on Whitlock Ave outside Marietta there's a restaurant called Gabriel's. Johnny Gabriel runs the restaurant and she's a cousin? to Paula Deen. Anyway, I LOVE their meatloaf, and I am notoriously hard to please in that area. They have all kinds of good home cooking as well as some of the most exquisite desserts you will ever find.

Ana--Cairo and Rome? That's awesome. I guess that was a trip of a lifetime.

Tami Brothers said...

Yay, Sally! Great going on the writing and just “forget about it” to the clutter (imagine the Godfather voice here….). If it works for you, I say go for it! Best of luck with Lorelai and keeping her from spilling in your laptop. I know from experience just how real that is… (Picture me really angry at myself for not getting the lid screwed on tighter to a sippy cup. And that was back when laptops were just coming out.)

As for the strangest place I’ve written, in the middle of a Superbowl party at a friend’s house. It sounds unsociable, but I’ve got to tell you I handled it pretty well. No one felt like I was ignoring them and I ended up with 10 pages of a story I’d been working on.

Have a great day!!!


Sally Kilpatrick said...

Tami--The Superbowl, eh? Write during the game and watch the commercials?

Tami Brothers said...

You know it!!!! Those are the best parts of the game!